Can cats and chickens become friends – part two.

In my previous post, you can see it here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/…/can-cats-and-chick…/

I talked about my cat Kimi and how she has bonded with our new hens.

kimi hen 4

I also mentioned that the chickens are kept away from our other cats, who aren’t as easy going as Kimi. Well, one of our feline friends got sight of our poultry for the first time and had a rather strange reaction.

storm yawn sideways

Mind you, if I were the size of Storm, the cat above, I would be a little frightened by these rather large birds with their massive feet and intense gaze.

gabriel

xena

Just as well they have separate gardens to hang out in. Calypso and her brother, Rasky, have a more relaxed approached to these big birds.

Calypso 1Rasky copy

On another note, my bee garden is a success. It looks so pretty and is attracting all kinds of bees and other fertilising insects. It is also kept well away from the marauding chickens.

cornflower-bee

bee garden 2

bee garden

Buck-buckaww folks!

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Do we give readers what marketers say they want, or what we want to write?

Over the past year or so I have paid for a number of marketing courses to help me sell my books. Unfortunately, when I signed up I didn’t realise that when they promised that I would sell tons of books if I followed their plan, that the books they were talking about wouldn’t be mine.

What do you mean? I hear you say.

Well, I mean, that these courses are designed to help you sell books that sell, which may not necessarily be your books. They cater for genre pulp fiction or non-fiction self-help type books. If you don’t write stuff like that, then from my experience, you won’t sell that many books. If you  follow the training in all of these authorpreneurral type courses where a few writers make millions out of selling novella style crime/mystery/whodunnit stories, then you will succeed. Especially if you are prepared to give most of your books away. Literature in general is suffering because of this influx of junk food style prose, in my opinion.

Readers don’t always want safe, they want different. Give it to them – please!

I don’t want to write like everyone else.

My motivation for writing does not come from the desire to make money, it comes from the desire to write for the thrill, the fun, the wonder of the written word. I am passionate about my writing. I laugh, cry, hurt when I write. I feel exhausted sometimes after I have spent a few hours struggling with sentences that won’t work, or characters that say things like, ‘Paul, we’ve done it!’ Ah! Done what? Now I have to figure out what they’ve done. It’s called imagination and you won’t find that in any course.

So, writers, not authors, writers – write from the heart, the gut, the soul – not from the bank account.

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Here is a wonderful poem by Charles Bukowski which sums up my rant beautifully.

So You Want To Be A Writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

 

If you would like to know more about my work, please visit my website  Oddly Books:

http://www.oddlybooks.com

 

Do you have a special place to write?

As I was typing away on my new project yesterday, it occurred to me that I need certain requirements to enable me to think, create and write. Not much to be honest, but I do have  my special place to help me channel my inspiration. I have a comfy chair with cushions, gentle lighting from the beautiful leaded light windows my husband, Martin made and my shelf of reference books ready to hand. When all that is in place I can happily delve into my fantasy world for hours.

Here is a photo of my ‘workstation’.

nikkis-workstation

Do any other authors out there have their special writing places? If so, I’d love to hear from you. If you have a picture, that would be even better.

I am currently working on a series of stories to complement my Sci-fi/Dystopian/Action Adventure books The Song of Forgetfulness.

sofbanner2_19-8-16

The idea came from several readers who contacted me after reading the books wanting to know more about the history of the world I have created. So, I thought, okay, why not?

Can of worms!

I needed to do a lot of research to make my history credible. So it has taken longer than I anticipated to write this prequel of sorts. In fact, I’m nowhere near done, but I have finished the first part, so that’s something.

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Here is a snippet from part two of The Chronicles of Mayer – out soon!

One weatherless night when quietness surrounded us and I lay snuggled against Paul, a sound awoke me. I thought at first it was just more thunder. But the thumping, rumbling noise was not coming from the sky. It was not the air echoing off a lightning bolt, but the thudding of many feet in unison. I rolled away from Paul’s sleep-twitching body and sat up. Glancing at the wet earth I noticed a puddle ripple. The cows called out. Paul stirred and Arjuna knelt beside me.

‘I was foraging for mushrooms and saw tiny lights. I climbed the branches of a tree and as the dark sky brightened to herald a new day, I saw them. Soldiers.’

‘How many.’ Fully awake, Paul stood. ‘Do they carry weapons?’

‘Guns. Some drag carts. They are coming this way.’

I rubbed my sleep-encrusted eyes. ‘That does not make sense. To travel towards the flooding? Why?

A single gunshot ricocheted through the forest. All that were in slumber jumped to their feet. Cries of puzzlement were met with a loud honking as if a nest of geese had been disturbed. Then a voice, deep and full of authority boomed out. ‘Stay perfectly still and you will not be harmed.’

If you would like more information about my books please do visit my website – Oddly Books.

www.oddlybooks.com

oddlybookslogo2-sml

Author Spotlight – Peter Scott

I have decided to do a series of blogs promoting new authors that live in East Anglia, in particular, Suffolk. Why? Because I live and work in this beautiful part of the country and have come to know a lot of new and established authors that also live here.

I have recently been hosting a series of workshops designed specifically for authors who are either new to publishing or new to marketing and promoting their author profile online. I have had the pleasure to meet several fabulous people who have self-published their books and are in need of some support.

So, to celebrate the varied talent from Suffolk and East Anglia I am proud to present debut Indie author Peter Scott and his novel Pimple.

PETER2

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself Peter:

I have lived through a period of considerable change, particularly social and demographic change. Joining RAF probably saved me from the local borstal, and set me up for a career in aircraft maintenance. This would have been about the time that ‘Bill Hailey and ‘The Comets’ came over to stir up our youth – including me. A first posting to Kenya jump started me into an awareness of a wider world and fascination for wild places which I was able to satisfy via various overseas contracts.  Later, following a period of self study and in a completely different role as a careers advisor it was rewarding to help young people come to rational decisions in a complex educational and working environment.

I suppose my de-fault position is that of a lucky so and so enjoying happy personal circumstances, but with a deep underlying foreboding about the massively growing numbers of our own species, many of which are programmed to inflict horror on each other and the natural world.

ABOUT PIMPLE – THE BOOK

PETER1

Pimple is about a very ordinary lad with limited self expression but great sensitivity. Quite unknowingly he is recruited into a hopelessly optimistic scheme to make the world a happier place. The scheme was devised years before his birth, and an extraordinary tune was created to act as a ‘recruiting agent’ tailored to select just the right band capable of creating music so inspirational it would create a global climate of love and co-operation.

As the story unravels Pimple encounters some bizarre situations and characters who are not quite as they first seem. It is of course a ‘tall story’ but during a trip to the USA they make an astounding discovery which could indeed change the world.

WHAT WAS THE BACKGROUND AND INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BOOK?

I used to play traditional jazz in a Lincolnshire pub and on one occasion a lad came up with a trumpet during the first interval and asked if he could ‘sit in’ with the band. Young ‘sitters in’ usually come with loud warning signs, noisy coteries or doting mums, but this one was different. For a start he was alone and wanted to play ‘Poor Mans Blues’ – a slow tune which should really be sung, but he just liked the tune and asked for it to be in Bb because it was his ‘easy key’ and he didn’t want to make too many mistakes. There was something genuine about his approach and something very genuine about his playing. He exactly captured the feel and sadness of the tune without any attempt to show off and I sensed it had been a consoling experience for him. Thanking us for letting him sit in he wandered off some time later and we never saw him again.

He made quite an impression, but no-one asked his name so we remembered him only as ‘Pimple’ because of a prominent pimple on one of his cheeks.

Some time later a particularly nasty incident in war – torn South Sudan started me wondering if a melody could be sufficiently powerful in its emotional impact to modify general nastiness and unkindness. I doubt it, but it developed it a ‘what if?’ fictional possibility, with Pimple as a central character. His limited verbal self-expression coupled with his sensitivity made him an ideal ’sounding board’ for the various characters and happenings around him.

WHAT WERE YOUR LIKES AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WRITING YOUR BOOK?

Perhaps the most satisfying part of writing was creating believable characters. It was also satisfying to succeed in making commonplace events seem interesting or enhancing a character by describing a simple action.  The most difficult part was producing the manuscript and cover suitable for an ‘e’ book .  Right now it’s marketing it on the web, however, Nikki McDonagh: http://wwwnicolamcdonagh.com  has been really helpful in her training sessions, so hopefully I’ll get there soon.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

Much of Pimple was written during overseas contracts, and only recently did I think it  ‘had legs’. I didn’t change it much except to make it more succinct and more ‘grown up’. So perhaps writing a book is a maturing process – or I’m just old.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE WRITING PLANS?

I have a few short pieces and rants which I hope to compile.  I also have a monster of a concept which I cannot yet resolve, but which also refuses to go away – hopefully something will go ‘click’ and I’ll move forward soon.

Thank you, Peter for a very interesting insight into your life and your writing process.

Pimple is on offer right now for only $0.99 £0.99.

So grab your copy NOW!

Available on:

Amazon.US: https://www.amazon.com/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

Amazon.UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

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Want Something Different To Read For Mother’s Day?

Firstly, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers out there.

spring

I am all for celebrating the joy  and hard work of motherhood. I think it is a wonderful idea to have a special day to say thanks, but I do get a bit fed up with all the over-the-top sugary sentimentality that the event conjures up.

So, as an antidote, let me share my Sestina – Echo– with you all. It may be a little dark, but it does celebrate the relationship between a mother and daughter.

Sestina – Echo

b&W Tulip

Echo

In blackness, Mother reaches for the light

switch, but the bulb has blown. There’s a candle

under her pillow, ready for a time

like this – when the darkness grips. A cut

on her arm has festered and now the skin

appears red and taught; an angry mark.

She tries to rub it away, but the mark

won’t go. Mother cowers, whispers, ‘No light.’

Calls out, ‘Mary, quick.’ Then picks at the skin

around the wound. Mother lifts the candle

rubs it on the dirty scratch. Mary says, ‘Cut

again?’ Then sets the wick on fire. One time

she found Mother naked, another time

crouched in the corner making a mark,

a sign to her daughter. A broken nail cut

her arm, left a blood trail that soaked up light.

Mary saw it flow and seep into the candle

whose flame highlighted Mother’s aged skin

hanging in folds. Mary peers at her own skin.

But the dimness hides the truth; that at some time

gravity will win. Mary takes the candle.

Sees a rough carving of a heart-shaped mark.

Did Mother make this? A bird calls as light

shines through the window. It’s enough to cut

into the gloom they stand in, and to cut

away the chill. It shines upon the skin

they share, so similar in this half-light.

Mary shudders at the thought that in time

her fate will be to scratch out such a mark

and wear her body half melted like candle

wax. A strand of hair has stuck to the candle.

She pulls it off revealing a perfect scar, a cut

embedded. With her thumb she makes a mark

like Mother made, leaving some of her skin

behind. They smile at the symmetry; how time

has crept up behind them and how the light

transformed the candle wax into a fresh skin

to lay across the cut, giving it time

to heal the mark, slowly fading in the light.

REd tulip_

If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read more unusual and darkly inspiration stories to be found in my anthology – Glimmer and other stories.

On the Eighth Day:

“He wriggled and pushed the bedclothes down. It was the first time I had seen him in the flesh.  His skin was white, and smooth as the skin on warm milk.

Never knew a man could feel so soft. More used to rough hands grabbing, not knowing what they touched.

He knew.

At least, I hoped so. Hard to tell. Been a while since I was in the company of a male.”

glimmer front red 2

‘The subjects range from humour to horror and supernatural romance to repressed creativity – they all have an underlying oddness about them which is quite refreshing. Recommended for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.’

‘Glimmer and other stories’ is a miniature treasure chest of jewels. I absolutely loved these short stories. As I was reading, I fell into a trance of adjectival excess… they were mesmerising, masterful, original, eloquent, lyrical, clever…’

On Offer at Amazon:

US:  http://amzn.to/239YbRG

UK: http://amzn.to/1n6Hqpu

 

Life-O-Suction Guest Post by Queen of Spades

It gives me great pleasure to present to you a very talented poetry and prose writer – Queen of Spades.

I could go on and on about her work and who she is, but I think Queen does a fabulous job of doing that herself.

So, take it away Queen of Spades!!!

Shoebox and Scrapbook

 

For those moments when my thoughts are at their most random, the end results can be a picture or a poem. Some are for a studio audience and others are for the bottom of a fancy shoebox.

Today I’d like to share some of my random pictures, along with a bit of backdrop surrounding them.

Nikki.Image.1

If I’m not mistaken it was around July—close to the time where America celebrates its independence. I was suffering from a bit of massive cabin fever, dying to get out but wanting to feel pretty. Random my design became with the eyes and that was the end result.

A few little lines were inside my head. I jotted them down on a piece of receipt paper that was left in my car.

Funny how we are always celebrating freedom
but more often than not,
we’d rather be Free to be Dumb
that chain ourselves to Knowledge.
If those are the only choices I have,
let me be Intelligence’s slave
and my Emancipation never be paid
with acres or a mule.

There was more but I got busy. With different errands here and there. Once those were completed and I made it back home, I tried to recapture that spirit. Unfortunately, it was gone and so was the spark that began the poem.

Nikki.Image.2

This is just outside of my house, prior to the time change—when one could still see a light sky at around 8 at night. It was the hue of the sky more than anything: varying shades of purple with the yellow here and there.

Lines from that scene … I still have not deciphered what they mean or if they will appear anywhere beyond this guest post.

These branches will never break away. How can they when the roots are in disarray? They will never let her defy gravity to run her fingers through the clouds—too slow for solace, too fast for substance.

Nikki.Image.3

I wanted to zoom in on the fantastic green of the tree, making it the focal point more so than the boat. I think that was accomplished. It was one of the happenstances where my mind was empty—a peace obtained not by mediation but just existed. Those are few and far in between for me, so when they come I cherish them.

Nikki.Image.4

 

Man I can’t feel my face
not because I’ll mess up the mascara
but because I’m still not certain
this is really my face.

Yes, I am a creature of habit but the door has been opened to experimenting. Not too long ago, I went to a department store to have a professional makeover. There are so many things in the world of makeup I didn’t know existed. Brow primer? Brow wax? Lip primer? Different brushes, different techniques. My jaw would have been dropped the whole time, if I didn’t have to keep still for the makeup artist to put product on me. The end result placed a lot of emphasis on my brows and eyes while downplaying my lips. If one looks closely, there’s even a bit of blush on my cheeks which I tend not to do. When I imagine blush, I think of my grandma who would put a rouge dot on each side of her face. So you can understand why blush equaled bolt.

I have not dared to look that grand again recently but I have marked a lot of Beauty Tips 101 You Tube videos as “Watch Later”.

Nikki.Image.5

It’s so easy to put on makeup
and get many likes and shares
but Social Media drowns into whispers, then quiet
if there is something significant
or if one is bare.

A day in my life … after I’m off my day job or a day I’m not working. I do a “howdidya” do—my way of describing an updo obtained without the use of Bobbi pins. First, having long Earth locs can be quite heavy and breaks are needed from time to time to get them off my neck or away from my face. Second, I’m not a fan of Bobbi pins. I can’t sleep in them and if they are in my head for too long, I get the “itchies” and start yanking them out anyway. I’m saving the pins the rejection; they should be thanking me!

In the backdrop are images I use as a bit of a motivational collage, if you will. I take advantage of the fact that the slope of the wall is actually the roof of the house. Besides, it is challenging to hang framed pictures with a strong possibility that they would fall. Cleaning up bits of glass is not my favorite thing.

QOS-Logo copy

For all of my writes that made it to publication, you can check them out at the following retailers:

Amazon Author Page

Smashwords (where you can grab some of my freebies)

and

Feel free to network with me via

Website

Facebook Author Page

Google Author Page

Twitter @authorqspades

National Short Story Week on Kindle – Amazon

It is National Short Story Week on Amazon Kindle. So, to celebrate this wonderful event, I have reduced my anthology of short stories to $0.99 and £0.77 (or the equivalent in other Amazon territories)

 Glimmer_Cover_for_Kindle

Glimmer and other stories is a collection of seven compelling and darkly humorous stories that deal with obsession, loss, redemption and hope.

In these tales of mysterious liaisons, supernatural intrigue, deathly hauntings and disturbing fixations, characters reveal hidden secrets, forbidden urges, untold yearnings and skills in necromancy.

Also, I thought you might like to read the beginning of one of my  unpublished stories that will be included in a second anthology – all based on paintings from Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch.

The Shivering Oak was inspired by Chagall’s painting called Autumn in the Village

 marc-chagall-autumn-in-the-village

 

Coward.

To hide up a tree like a rat.

I am not concealed.

I am here for all to see. Lounging larger than the roof I recline upon. Or so it seems to me from my high vantage point.

Weakling.

You are not invisible. I know where you are, and I can wait.

I shall not grow tired or hungry. I am nourished by the warm May winds that tickle my flesh and brush against my lips, which are red. I painted them the colour of blood. But, now that I glance at my reflection in the darkened window of the house opposite, I think they resemble the hue of the roses on my dress. Or perhaps they are nearer the shade of the berries on the holly bush that grows below your dangling feet.

Perhaps I should let Genghis off his leash?

No, I will wait and watch you struggle to maintain your position whilst gripping onto your fiddle. The same violin you used to seduce me at last years Christmas concert, even before we officially met.

The village hall was crammed. I was forced to stand at the back and peer over the shoulders of the tall men. I didn’t mind though. It was good to be in the hub of things after so many years cooped up with Dad. The lights came up and I saw you standing stage right next to the accordion player. You were staring at the ceiling, instrument tucked under your arm. When it was your turn to play, you seemed to be switched on by an invisible flick. How you came to life. I may have drooled when your fingers slid right to the top of the neck of the violin. The shrill, and lilting notes you played made my backbone dance involuntarily and I almost fell.

I wonder when you will fall. Because, fall you will.

The tree is shaking. You are loosing your footing. I hear the crack of branches snapping. This young oak cannot hold your weight. Not that you are heavy. You are not. I should know, I picked you up as though you where a cloud that time Genghis ran into your backside. The crunch your bone nose made when it met the pavement outside the village bakery resounded all the way to the church. Father Laurence made a rare visit to the outside world to see what the commotion was all about. Laura, your sister, Howard, the police constable, and several other members of the village parish council, made a ring around your fallen self and all, except for me, tutted and shook their heads. Father Laurence mumbled, “Ah, Peter, Peter, drunk again and so early in the morning?”

You gargled a bit then tried to stand, but fell again emitting another squelching sound, this time of gristle. I, all heroine-like, fluttered down to your level and offered my clean handkerchief. You took it in your left hand and held out your right for me to take. I did and felt the softness of your palm, a stark contrast to the thick-skinned roughness of your fingertips. I pulled you up as though you had no weight. You blinked and stared into my eyes and gave a little smile. I flushed at such an intense stare, then you snotted out some blood and my mood changed somewhat.

“Yeah, thanks. I don’t know what happened. I felt a thud and there I was flat out sniffing up dirt,” you said and tried to push the soiled kerchief back into my hand.

“No, no, you keep it.”

 “Sure?”

“Positively.”

“Well, thanks again.”

“Come on Peter, you are making a fool of yourself,” Laura said.

“How? I fell over, so what?” you said, your voice becoming shrill.

The gathered people began to murmur and look at each other as if to say, “He is always getting into trouble. Typical musician, they’re all bad.” I gave them a nasty look, and when Genghis tugged on his lead they shuffled away; remembering the devastation he caused the last time he broke free.

To get your copy of Glimmer and other stories, please go to these Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1408436081&sr=1-2&keywords=glimmer+and+other+stories

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-Nicola-McDonagh-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?